When Gov. Ricketts’ tax cut plans emerged at the beginning of the Nebraska legislative session, they appeared to set the stage for a classic rural-urban debate. The rural voice would coalesce around the need for agricultural land property tax relief while the more urban groups would call for their own form of property tax relief and the touted income tax cut.
Yet as the combined income and property tax cut bill known as LB 461 emerged from committee and to the floor for debate, there was a uniquely unified voice among constituent groups.
Left and right leaning ag groups, tax reform and social justice organizations, and rural and urban schools came together and affirmed that this legislation would appease no one. Instead, this bill would leave Nebraska’s schools and communities without the funding they need while offering little in the way of tax relief for farmers, ranchers, and everyday Nebraskans.
These unlikely partnerships were also reflected in the senators’ votes, which brought debate on the bill to an end for this session.
Despite reluctance to push back a bill without a clear alternative in hand, the conversations that began as opposition to an ill-crafted bill have turned into a commitment to developing a solution founded in consensus. With this resolve, unlikely partners will continue to work together to find a way forward that balances the need to fund schools and communities and property tax relief for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.
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